Winter storms raging across the country, disrupted supply chains, and COVID-19 have been serious obstacles to the success of the manufacturing industry over the past year. A perfect storm of economic destruction has wiped out some manufacturers that either weren’t able to adjust or witnessed a dearth of demand for once-popular products that decimated their markets.
It's not all doom and gloom, though. Many manufacturers face these unprecedented challenges by flexibly using new strategies and advanced tools. Here are the top four manufacturing trends that you can take advantage of to dramatically turn things around for your business.
Needing Asset Tracking Software
As they grow, manufacturers often learn that their old manual asset tracking systems are unable to keep up with the added complexity of their operations. A pen and paper or Excel spreadsheets can’t give them the automation they need, and even a world-class accounting solution like QuickBooks doesn’t have enough asset tracking features to do the job.
Instead, they are increasingly turning to asset tracking software as a way to automate the creation of multilevel work orders, bills of materials, manufacture orders, and more. Depending on the asset tracking software they choose, they can even integrate it with many other solutions, such as SolidWorks, QuickBooks, Salesforce, and various shippers and ecommerce platforms.
Proactive Equipment Maintenance
Equipment maintenance has always been essential. Manufacturing equipment experiences a lot of wear and tear as it’s used day in and day out. Manufacturers have found that a proactive approach to maintenance saves them time and money compared to a reactive approach.
A broken-down machine can result in thousands of dollars of lost revenue and other expenses, as well as hundreds of unrecoverable man-hours. To prevent serious downtime issues, manufacturers are investing in technology, including asset tracking software and an Internet of Things approach. These tools enable them to schedule frequent maintenance checks of their equipment, based on each one’s necessity, usage, and frequency of past maintenance.
Scheduled downtime for equipment may be inconvenient, but it’s much better than unscheduled downtime. At least you’re in control of the timing. Not only does proactive maintenance prevent unnecessary production delays, but it increases your equipment’s lifespan and usefulness. Replacing equipment is definitely more expensive than simply preserving what you’ve got. If it ain’t broke, maintain it!
Technology and Robotics
Gone are the days of having to outsource expensive manufacturing jobs for molds and other items. That’s because 3D printing has become so cheap and accessible that just about every manufacturer can use it to generate practically anything they can think of. Software like SolidWorks enables manufacturers to plan and visualize products before building them with a 3D printer. It even integrates with asset tracking software to pull in specific items from a company’s inventory for use in a 3D printing job.
Barcode scanners and robotics have been staples of the manufacturing industry for decades, but even those are seeing quantum leaps. It’s possible that in the coming years barcode scanners will be wearable, perhaps as watches or glasses, to free up workers’ hands while still allowing them to perform complex jobs in the warehouse. And robotics used in manufacturing have gotten so advanced that oftentimes the only jobs that require human intervention are to repair and service those machines.
Even though technology is of growing importance in the workplace, that doesn’t erase the need to take care of the people who work there. In fact, safety is likely to be of paramount importance in the coming year and beyond. That’s because no employer wants to be accused of spreading COVID-19 through any perceived negligence toward their employees.
Safety precautions will be necessary for the foreseeable future to make sure people remain healthy. As a result, it’s becoming popular to do as many jobs as possible in-house to limit exposure to germs and to track where items have been at every point of the supply chain. Lot numbers and serial numbers come in handy for asset tracking, hence the necessity of asset tracking software to manufacturers, as we mentioned earlier.
Manufacturing is at the heart of every country’s economy. The more companies produce and people consume, the better chance countries have to grow out of their economic woes. By using asset tracking software, proactively maintaining equipment, utilizing innovative technology, and prioritizing workplace safety, manufacturers put themselves in an ideal position to come roaring back in the coming years as we hopefully return to a sense of normalcy or something even better than normal.